#TheList David Cottrell, born 09/10/1966 of 18 Sandringham Drive, Newcastle upon Tyne NE16 5ZA – caused prolonged suffering to pigs he kept in shocking conditions
Cottrell, former owner of pork and black pudding supplier Medomsley Bangers was convicted of 31 animal welfare charges relating to animals on his site at Manor Road, Medomsley, County Durham, from March to October 2018.
They included charges of being a person responsible for farmed animals and failing to take steps to ensure they had the right conditions, and failing to comply with duty regulations 4, 5 and 7 of the Animal Welfare Act.
Catherine Hazell, prosecuting for the council, said animal health inspectors and a police officer had first visited the site at Manor Road on March 23, 2018.
They found a pen of 11 pigs living in deep slurry with no dry lying area and no water, alongside two pig carcasses.
Another pen containing one pig had no water. Piglets were crammed into a small pen with hardly any space and filthy drinking water.
Officers searched the fields and found horses with access to a large pile of debris and wood with nails and sharp pieces which could likely cause them injury, as well as sheep carcasses.
Cottrell was issued a notice to dispose of the animal by-products, but when officers returned weeks later there was still no dry lying area for 23 pigs, while sharp objects were still in the field with the horses.
During a further visit in October 2018 five underweight pigs were found with no feed available. Six adolescent pigs were crammed in a small pen and standing knee-deep in slurry with filthy water.
The council seized 44 pigs as well as piglets in November 2018. Some of the pigs have since had piglets. There were eventually about 150 pigs in total.
Cottrell only provided his consent to the council selling the pigs in June.
The upkeep of the pigs amounted to £27,765 offset by the sale of some
A probation report noted that Cottrell had decided to set up his own business sheep and pig farming more than three years after suffering serious injuries in a horse accident.
Cottrell told a probation officer that at the time of the incidents he was caring for his terminally ill mother and elderly father and it had got “too much for him”.
He added, a contractor providing him feed had also let him down.
Cottrell, who is selling the land, is now working as a private contractor providing security and as a takeaway driver.
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work with 15 probation activity days. He was ordered to pay £24,919, including costs of looking after the pigs and legal costs. Disqualified from owning or keeping pigs, sheep, poultry and horses for life.
#TheList Paul G Robinson, born c. 1969, of Hill Farm, Harby Lane, Plungar, Nottingham NG13 0JH – for severe neglect of pigs, cattle and sheep
Robinson was visited by Trading Standards officers after a member of the public contacted them about the conditions his animals were being kept in.
When they arrived at Hill Farm, they found pigs were living in darkness and one ewe was not getting enough food to produce milk for her undernourished lamb.
Officers from the RSPCA attended the same day and they immediately took all 27 cattle and 46 pigs from the 20-acre farm for welfare reasons.
The sheep, goats, chickens and other animals were left on the farm.
Robinson pleaded guilty to 16 charges relating to the cattle, pigs and sheep.
But magistrates agreed to a ban that only included pigs and cattle.
While some of the offences he admitted were for causing suffering to his livestock, others related to failures to properly tag animals, notify the government about animal purchases and deaths and following codes of practice.
Adam Clemens, prosecuting on behalf of Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards, said: “The cattle and pigs had insufficient feed and the sheep had for the most part no feed.
“A third of the pens had no water and cattle were thin.”
He said pig carcasses were seen lying among the pigs while sheep carcasses had been burned.
Six further visits were made to the farm by the Trading Standards officers.
When Robinson was interviewed by Trading Standards the answers he gave were “cause for concern”, Mr Clemens said.
He said Robinson had never read any codes of practice farmers should follow, and did not think animals needed access to food and water at all times.
When asked about the burned lamb carcasses, Robinson said he believed his dogs had dragged the dead animals onto a bonfire, although he later pleaded guilty to burning four lamb carcasses.
Robinson told the interviewers he cleaned the animal sheds out every three to six months and saw no problem with the way the animals were being kept.
Mr Clemens said there had been many other concerns about the farm in recent years.
There was not a single year between 2012 and 2017 Trading Standards did not visit the farm and Mr Clemens said had no information about years prior to 2012 because the records were not available.
Kim Lee, representing Robinson, said his client had always been “less than a junior partner” to his father who “would rule the farm with a rod of iron”.
He said his client had been “overwhelmed” since his father’s death a year ago and was also struggling to look after his mother, who suffers from dementia.
Meanwhile, the farm was making a loss of about £3,000 per year, he said.
Mr Lee said: “This is a man who recognises the error of his ways and has taken steps to address the errors of the past.
“His financial situation is precarious. It’s no life. There’s no profit.”
Mr Lee asked the magistrates not to ban Robinson from keeping all animals so that he could continue as a farmer.
He said: “It’s all he’s known – man and boy.”
He said his client would not mind being banned from keeping pigs and cattle and would reduce the number of sheep on his farm from 81 to no more than 50.
Sentencing: six-month jail sentence suspended for two years; ordered to pay total of £2,115 costs and charges. Lifetime ban on keeping pigs and cattle.
#TheList Gary Stevens, born 13/07/1966 of Hallmoss Farm, near Peterhead AB42 3BP – for cruelty to livestock, a Shetland pony and a donkey
Stevens pleaded guilty to three of eight criminal charges raised against him under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
He had all his livestock seized by Aberdeenshire Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Service in August 2018, following a series of visits by inspectors, prompted by public concerns.
A vet deemed it necessary for the animals to be removed due to concerns over their poor condition, lack of veterinary treatment and the dreadful conditions in which they were kept.
A pig was euthanised to end its suffering and the remaining livestock were taken to a place where they could be restored to health. Aberdeenshire Council subsequently sought a disposal order at Peterhead Sheriff Court which was granted in February 2019 allowing the animals to be sold.
Senior council animal health and welfare inspector Pauline Anderson said: “We welcome the strong sentence that has been imposed in what was a very distressing case.
“As well as the wholesale suffering of the animals, the poor conditions at the farm meant there was a risk of disease spreading outwith the premises. The animals were kept in shocking conditions and we would like to thank Police Scotland and the Animal and Plant Health Agency for their support to allow us to remove them from the site.”
Mr Stevens was also found guilty of ‘extreme’ neglect of a Shetland pony and donkey.
The Scottish SPCA had visited Hallmoss Farm in June 2018 after concerns were raised to the charity’s animal helpline. The vet in attendance then said the state of the Shetland pony was ‘the most extreme case’ he’d come across in 34 years of practising. Her front feet were so badly deformed that they were deemed in-correctable, while her poor body condition was attributed to pain and stress, and she was subsequently put to sleep.
Inspector Fiona McKenzie said: “In my 12 years as a Scottish SPCA inspector, this is one of the worst cases I’ve ever dealt with and I’ve never seen such a disregard for animal welfare.
“We made every attempt to work constructively with Stevens and his family, including issuing statutory care notices to improve the welfare of their animals.
“They rebuffed this offer of support and were uncooperative. Ultimately, they attempted to hide the animals under the guise of them having been rehomed.
“This left us with no choice but to make a report to the procurator fiscal. From this investigation we took ownership of over 45 animals including horses, pigs, sheep, lambs, cats, dogs and terrapins.”
She added: “We worked closely with Aberdeenshire Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team who took their own case to the procurator fiscal. We are very pleased the sheriff exercised the maximum punishment available to Stevens. We hope this will act as a deterrent to others and be just one of many examples of more consistent sentencing for those who are cruel to animals.”
Sentencing: 18 months in prison, reduced to 14 because of the guilty plea. Lifetime ban on keeping all animals.
#TheList Steffan Lee Harris, born 17/12/93, and Barbara Ray Howell, born 21/08/93, of Gorwyn, Tenby Road, St Clears, Carmarthen SA33 4JN – kept dozens of dogs in shocking conditions at illegal puppy farm
Steffan Lee Harris and partner Barbara Ray Howell pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences, running a dog breeding business without a licence, and consumer offences relating to the advertising of dogs online.
Animal inspectors found starving and sick dogs being held in sheds and barns at premises operated by the couple who sold puppies online while pretending to be private sellers.
Paul Hobson, prosecuting, told the court how the couple advertised on a website called, ironically, he said, preloved.co.uk.
One buyer paid £225 for a puppy from a caravan the pair rented at Waun Dwni farm, Tanygroes. The animal became ill before the buyer got back home to Cardiff and they ended up paying £700 in vet’s bills.
Mr Hobson said the puppy had not been microchipped, vaccinated or treated for fleas as the couple had claimed in their advertisement.
A major investigation followed, first by Ceredigion County Council and then by the RSPCA.
Inspectors found 82 dogs being kept in poor conditions – 49 breeding females, 12 males and 21 puppies ready for sale.
Many of the dogs were kept in small enclosures with little light or access to fresh air with poor or muddy bedding and sharp corners and low-hanging electrical cables across the pens.
A lurcher could hardly move, a terrier was tied to a breeze block and a collie had a body score of one out of nine and was close to death.
Another dog was kept in a sealed container and it appeared impossible for anyone to get in to feed or water her, said Mr Hobson.
Inspectors also found pigs squealing through lack of food and water, and chickens that appeared not to have been fed or given access to water. One chicken collapsed in front of them.
The court heard Harris, who was present during the inspection, was “less than cooperative” during the process.
Harris and Howell both admitted cruelty offences in relation to the pigs and Harris to the chickens.
Mr Hobson said further investigation showed that Harris had a flock of 110 sheep on nearby land, which he rented.
The owner became concerned because he did not seem to be there to look after them and inspectors found sheep carcasses that should have been disposed of properly.
After Harris was made aware of their concerns the sheep disappeared, apart from 19 which he seemed to have simply abandoned.
Mr Hobson said an initial financial investigation suggested the couple had banked £150,000 between 2013 and 2018 through the sale of puppies.
A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation is underway to determine how much money could been confiscated from them. That matter will be settled at a court hearing on 15 November, 2019.
After his arrest Harris said he wanted to get the puppy farm up and running before applying for a licence.
Howell said she only looked after the paperwork.
For Harris and Howell James Hartson said he accepted that anyone seeing the photographs of the dogs could not fail to be mortified.
“They had ambitions for a business but lost control. It is likely the financial consequences will be punitive,” he added.
Mr Hartson urged the judge not to impose banning orders preventing the defendants from owning or being concerned in the care of dogs as that would effectively stop Harris from carrying out his work as a herdsman.
Judge Peter Heywood said animals were defenceless and Harris and Howell had housed them in totally inappropriate surroundings.
“This was a significant commercial enterprise and Harris was the driving force,” he added.
“You were in it to make money and had no regard for the welfare of the animals.”
The judge said Harris, who cannot read or write, had been the “driving force” behind the enterprise while Howell had assisted him.
He said he would be failing in his public duty if he suspended Harris’ sentence, but took into account that Howell had a young child when sentencing her.
Sentencing: Harris was jailed for six months (half to be served on licence) while Howell was given a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity requirement. Both were made the subject of banning orders preventing them from owning or being concerned in the care of dogs, chickens, and sheep for the next five years.
#TheList for cruelty to sheep at a halal abattoir – Dale Valley Rossendale Ltd (Malik Foods), Malik Halls, 47 Great Horton Road, Bradford BD7 1AZ (director Junaid Imtiaz Malik, born April 1979 and recent ex-director and previous offender Stephen Lee Riley, born July 1980, of Dunnockshaw Farm, Burnley BB11 5PP), employees Imdad Ali of 31 Park Road, Accrington BB4 1SU, Joseph Bell of Carr Bank Farm, Crawshawbooth, Rossendale BB4 8UE, David Hargreaves of Adelaide Street, Crawshawbooth, and Elizabeth Bennett of 26 Humber Street, Preston PR3 3WD
The brutal treatment of sheep at a halal non-stun abattoir was caught on covert CCTV installed by animal welfare charity, Animal Aid.
Blackburn magistrates heard how it showed animals having their throats hacked at repeatedly by a slaughterman responsible for ‘sticking’ them.
Animals were not correctly restrained or loaded during the slaughter process causing greater distress.
The court was told when the overseeing vet was present all procedures were carried out correctly.
Howard Shaw, prosecuting, said: “It is not that they were ignorant of the regulations, these were deliberate breaches.”
Abattoir operator Dale Valley Rossendale Limited pleaded guilty to eight offences under Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations for England and was fined £5,000 plus £2,000 costs.
Imdad Ali, aged 47, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure sheep were not moved, shacked or hoisted after they had been stuck and before it was unconscious, failing to ensure a sheep was killed by severance of its carotid arteries and jugular veins by rapid, uninterrupted movements of a knife, excessive flexing of the neck of a sheep during sticking, failing to ensure sheep were moved with care, and sticking a sheep while it was not properly restrained causing it to fall to the floor while being bled.
He was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £200 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
Joseph ‘Joe’ Bell, born 09/06/96, pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the improper handling of the sheep prior to slaughter. He was given a community order for 12 months with 120 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £150 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
David Hargreaves, 35, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that every animal was moved with care by lifting ten sheep by their fleeces and/or tails when loading them into restrainers. He was fined £200 and ordered to pay £130 costs.
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Bennett, 21, pleaded guilty to offences under the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations. She was fined £120 and ordered to pay £100 costs.
Mr Shaw said the prosecution case was that a large number of sheep were caused to suffer unnecessarily during slaughter operations at the Dunnockshaw Farm abattoir on two days in March 2017.
Animal Aid commissioned two freelance investigators to install covert cameras in the killing room.
The investigators secretly entered the premises at night and installed the cameras which eventually provided the evidence on which the Foods Standards Agency based the prosecution.
Mr Shaw said over two days of filming 94 per cent of the sheep killed by non-stun halal methods were not slaughtered in compliance with the welfare requirements.
He said sheep were thrown into restraints and roughly handled prior to slaughter.
Ali failed to carry out the slaughter in the approved manner – a single rapid cut – and animals were moved after the cut before they had lost consciousness.
A Food Standards Agency spokesperson said: “The Food Standards Agency takes animal welfare at slaughterhouses very seriously and we investigate all reported breaches. We welcome that the business and individuals have been convicted and sentenced for their actions.
“Where abattoirs fail to uphold animal welfare standards, the FSA will investigate and seek to have prosecutions brought against those responsible.”
An Animal Aid spokeswoman said:‘While it is positive that this long-running case has finally concluded, we certainly do not feel that justice has been adequately served. These lenient sentences in no way reflect the gravity of the terrible suffering that was inflicted on gentle animals at the most vulnerable time of their short lives.
“It is important to emphasise the shocking scenes we filmed at this slaughterhouse were by no means unique. We have filmed inside 15 slaughterhouses, and found law-breaking in almost every case. Incidents filmed at other slaughterhouses include animals being beaten, kicked and burnt with cigarettes.
“But even when the law is followed to the letter, slaughter can never be cruelty-free. Slaughterhouses are merciless places, where animals’ lives are brutally taken from them.
“We would urge anyone who is shocked by this case to try a cruelty-free diet. Going vegan is the single best thing we can all do to help animals.”
#TheList farmer Dylan E Williams, born c. 1972, of Neuaddlwyd Isaf, Ciliau Aeron, Lampeter SA48 7RE – pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after 47 rotting sheep were found on his land.
Williams, who also owns a tree surgery business, pleaded guilty to four animal welfare and animal by-products offences after an investigation carried out by Ceredigion Council.
When animal welfare officers visited the farm in April 2018, they found 47 sheep carcasses in various states of decomposition. These carcasses were accessible by other sheep and young lambs that were still alive.
The council said the majority of sheep seen on the land were suffering from severe wool loss and irritated skin, signs of a debilitating condition known as sheep scab.
Two of the charges brought against Williams under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 concerned the causing of unnecessary suffering to two ewes – one of which was found unconscious with her intestines protruding from her body.
Another offence related to Williams not meeting the welfare needs of his sheep due to the fact that he failed to properly inspect the flock. He also failed to manage and treat the sheep scab effectively.
In total, there were three separate offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and one under the Animal By-Products Regulations.
Sentencing: 250 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £1,648 costs. Not banned from keeping animals.
#TheList Ali El-Aridi, born c. 1996, of 89 Stubbins Lane, Sheffield S5 6QJ – kidnapped a sheep from a beauty spot and abandoned her in a suburban street; caught with extreme animal porn on his mobile phone
Ali El-Aridi filmed himself chasing a sheep along the banks of Ladybower Reservoir. When he eventually caught her, El-Aridi directed an expletive-filled rant at the animal, which he recorded on his phone.
He then drove the sheep to his home city and released her into a suburban area, again filming it all as he went.
The theft, in August 2018, came to the attention of Derbyshire Rural Crime Team after members of the public who witnessed the theft from the other side of the reservoir posted what they had seen on Facebook.
Within a day the sheep had been reunited with her owner, having been rescued from the Wincobank area of Sheffield by some of the local community, and El-Aridi was identified.
Officers examined El Aridi’s phone and found the evidence he had filmed, as well as two extreme pornographic material, specifically a collage picture of images of a dead cat in various sexual acts with a man, and a video of a horse involved in oral sex with a man.
El-Aridi admitted theft and was found guilty of possessing extreme pornography.
Speaking about the case PC Andy Shaw, Derbyshire Police’s Rural Crime Team, noted El-Aridi’s “sheer disregard” for the welfare of the sheep and that “he seemed to care significantly more about the mess it had made to his boot lining.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order of 100 hours of unpaid work. Ordered to pay £620 in costs.